***Author note: similar to biblical fiction, I am writing portions of this as if it were a novel to be read. I have pieced together how it could have occurred to the best of my ability. As far as I have researched, nothing I have taken the artistic liberty with, contradicts Scripture but please understand, that some parts I have had to assume or think of how it might have happened, in order for the writing to flow better. Take it with what you will, but obviously my writing is not the Word of God, only something written by a daughter of the King, trying to do His sacrifice justice***
“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it,” ~ Matthew 28:2
Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (*there very likely could have been others, but these are the specific names given in Scripture, across the four Gospels*) went to the tomb of Jesus. Their hearts were heavy and weighted with sorrow at everything that had occurred. With them, they had spices in order to finish the burial preparations, which had to be left undone because of the Sabbath.
“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” questioned one, turning to look at her companions for an answer (Mark 16:3). However, they were as much at a loss for a solution as she. Even still, they continued on.
They walked towards the tomb, grieving and remembering all that Jesus said. Sweet-smelling flowers greeted them when they entered into the garden (John 19:41), bringing in an aroma of life and hope that was desperately needed. Since they had left before dawn (Luke 24:1), there was barely any light to guide their way, and as such, the women made sure to walk with caution. As they approached, an earthquake caused the ground to shake and tremor! (Matthew 28:2)
What can this mean? thought one of the women, wondering what a second earthquake in only three days could signify.
And as the earthquake occurred, an “angel of the Lord descended from heaven” and rolled back the stone! He had white clothing, shining brilliantly.
The guards were terrified, and in such a state of fear (surely, they thought, death is near!) that they, “became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). An entire troop of Roman guards reduced to a lot of unconscious men!
Entering into the tomb, the women expected to see the body of Jesus. The small amount of light that was able to enter into the grave, allowed them to see something shocking. Linen cloths, used to wrap the body, were folded neatly – with the face cloth in a separate place from the others (John 20:6-7). His body was no longer there!
Outside the tomb, Mary Magdalene wept. And looking within the burial, she saw two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been.
“They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus,” ~ John 20:13-14
“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” asked Jesus (John 20:15).
Because of the early hour, it was difficult to see because the sun had not fully risen. Thinking him to be the gardener, because of the tomb’s location, Mary replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Saying this, she turned back towards the inside of the tomb, where an angel had begun to speak. Tears still splattered down her cheeks, grief very much real.
“Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Come, see the place where he lay. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise,” said the angel (*taken from both Luke 24:5-7 and Matthew 28:5-6*).
Then, a single word caught her attention. Her name. “Mary.”
Turning back around, Mary realized that it was Jesus. Alive! Right before her! The last time she had seen him, he had been brutally whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Red had painted his skin in crimson. She had watched him die…and now, here he stood! “Rabboni!” (John 20:16)
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).
The other women came out of the tomb, minds racing with this information. Their hands shook in astonishment, bodies trembling from the magnitude of it all (Mark 16:8). In a mix of emotions, each woman was filled with both fear and great joy from all they had heard and experienced (Matthew 28:8).
As they came out, Jesus greeted them.
Eyes wide and some, if not all, filled with happy, overwhelming tears. They came closer, bowing and touching his feet in worship. Oh the joy! To see him again! How wonderful, how marvelous.
“Do not be afraid,” said Jesus, “go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
I love this. Out of anyone he could have chosen, Jesus picked women to be the first ones to see him risen from the dead, and as the designated messengers to his disciples. The true greatness of this can be more appreciated, when we realize that back then, the testimony of women as witnesses was not always believed. Yet, he still chose them.
As a young, Christian woman, I’m so thankful that portions like this are included in Scripture, because it shows one example of how Jesus saw men and women – equal. He treated their witness as concrete and sound as a male’s, and in that day and age, this was uncommon.
(and maybe a tiny part of it had to do with the fact that women love to talk and he knew they would spread the word) xD
As I celebrate Easter, I remember everything that our Savior went through – the rejections, the beatings, the whippings, the guilt and shame though he was innocent…dying on a cross. It amazes me that someone would willingly choose to do that for me. Heck, I don’t think I would do that for me; it’s mind-blowing.
Literally, I cannot compute why Jesus would do that. His unconditional love is so unlike human relationships that I find myself unable to comprehend it, and yet, I am so, incredibly thankful for his sacrifice and grace.
Let us never forget the very real sacrifice that our Savior went through, and always celebrate the fact that on the third day, death was DEFEATED and Jesus Christ rose from the grave!
~ Southern Dreamer
“Die he or justice must; unless for him some other able, and as willing, pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say heav’nly Powers, where shall we find such love, which of ye will be mortal to redeem Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save, dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton
Who will step forward? Will someone sacrifice the glories and perfection of heaven for the broken and trying life on Earth?
“He asked, but all the heav’nly choir stood mute, and silence was in Heav’n; on man’s behalf patron or intercessor none appeared, much less that durst upon his own head draw the deadly forfeiture, and ransom set,” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton
Silence. The golden streets and tree of life. Silence. The heralds of angels and beating wings. Silence. The majesty of the Creator and the magnificence of heaven’s shining buildings. Silence.
Silence can say so much more than words.
Would anyone step in? Would someone take man’s place?
“And now without redemption all mankind must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell by doom severe, had not the Son of God, in whom the fullness dwells of love divine, his dearest mediation thus renewed.
‘Father, thy word is passed, man shall find grace; and shall grace not find means, that finds her way, the speediest of thy winged messengers, to visit all thy creatures, and to all comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought, happy for man, so coming; he her aid can never seek, once dead in sins and lost; atonement for himself or offering meet, indebted and undone, hath none to bring: Behold me then, me for him, life for life I offer, on me let thine anger fall; account me man; I for his sake will leave thy bosom, and this glory next to thee freely put off, and for him lastly die well pleased, on me let Death wreak all his rage; under his gloomy power I shall not long lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess life in myself forever, by thee I love, though now to Death I yield, and am his due,'” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton
All heaven silent, until the Son of God spoke. All mankind lost, until this moment.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” ~ Luke 2:11
He, who had come from heaven: perfect, beautiful, joyful, now came to Earth – to be among his creation, to do what no one else could.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” ~ Hebrew 4:15
Instead of a throne, he sat on the dusty, dirty ground. Insects crawling beneath; an ant biting him. Instead of a crown and robes of splendor, he wore the simple clothing of a carpenter. Blisters on his hands from working with wood; a splinter finding its way into his skin. Instead of angels singing praises hour after hour, he endured the ridicule of bullies. Name-calling, excluding him from activities, causing a bleeding cheek or egg-sized knot on his head. Instead of perfection, he came to the broken world. Temptation rearing its ugly head and the battle not to give in.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
He had friends, family. Perhaps, he had a particular pet growing up that he was fond of. Maybe a sheep that would sneak into the house when it was not supposed to, or a baby chick that cuddled up by his bedside. He celebrated holidays with feasts and great fun. He experienced the growing up pains of being a teenager; the temptation though he did not sin.
And then, came the end of an old world and the beginning of a marvelous grace-filled one where death is defeated.
Let’s back-track though.
The arrest of Jesus.
“Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples,” ~ John 18:2
This one sentence has so much information. We learn two key pieces of information about his arrest, that make it so much more painful. The obvious one is that Judas – someone he had taught, ate with, and spent many hours conversing about various things – betrayed him. Secondly, let’s go back to this…”for Jesus often met there with his disciples.”
Putting it in our terms, this was their “hang-out” place. The spot they went to when they wanted to talk, escape the crowds, just be friends. So I don’t think it is too overly assuming to say that this location probably had a special meaning.
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground,” ~ Luke 22:41-44
I’m not sure if it’s because only Luke records it, or if I’ve just never noticed it in the other Gospels before, but I find it so interesting that it says, “and there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” I wonder what this entailed. Did the angel encourage him in words? Remind him of the good that would come after? Give him something to eat or drink?
I think it is noteworthy to point out, that though the angel strengthened him…his pain did not go away. Right after, it says, “and being in agony.”
Yes, Jesus was strengthened, but his “cup” was not taken away. The struggle, the apprehension of what was to come did not leave. As the verse concludes, it becomes clear that he is under a tremendous amount of anxiousness. There is an actual, medical condition where one is under so much stress and anxiety that sweat and blood mix, creating, as Luke wrote, “like great drops of blood.”
There would still be more to come. Trials. Betrayals. Beatings – horrible, gruesome whips that came upon him again and again. Thorns – a mockery by them, shoving a crown of nature’s needles onto his head…blood pooling out. Humiliation – casting lots for his clothing, doing everything to try and destroy his dignity. Pain.
The nails. The cross. Dying the worst and most degraded form of death that could be done. How amazing of a Savior we have! I cannot compute this kind of love – unconditional, perfect, encompassing. Even as I write this, it blows my mind that someone would willingly choose to go through the most undesirable form of suffering for me.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” ~ 1 Peter 2:24
Guilt. Though Jesus had done no wrong, he took the weight of our sins. Can you imagine? All of history. All of humanity. Every person that has and ever will live. That feeling, that sense of shame and guilt that comes with sin, he felt. Him, who knew no sin and lived a perfect life, experienced the ramifications of sin. The consequences, though he was innocent.
Imagine the worst crime you can think of – murder, rape. And then picture yourself having to feel the guilt and shame for doing that, though you did not.
In every way, the sacrifice of Jesus was brutal. It was emotionally taxing – friends betraying him, mentally draining – enduring the verbal assault, physically sapping – the most horrific, pain and death, and spiritually exhausting – when God turned his face.
Let’s go back to that place, that hour.
It is the middle of the day; there are three crosses. Because it is the Passover, travelers are passing by and witnessing this dismal sight. There are soldiers, who prolonged his suffering by giving him wine vinegar. There is his family, weeping and in anguish over what has been done to him.
Instant darkness. The light from the day vanished and inky blackness took its place. There was no electricity, and no backup generators. Perhaps someone found a candle, though I doubt they had one close by. Who would have thought it would be needed at midday?
The hours ticked by, time moving slowly. Seconds turned into minutes, seeming to stretch into infinity. What had happened? Why was it pitch black at noon? Would the light return?
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit,” ~ Matthew 27:50
The curtain of the temple stood sixty feet high and thirty feet wide. It separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, that only the high priest was allowed to enter once a year. At this moment, this instant it was torn in two. The separation between God and humanity had been breached.
The ground rumbled – an earthquake. Rocks were broken, split into pieces. The tombs opened up and the “bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:52).
Jesus had died.
***will post second part tomorrow on Easter***
A few months ago, I wrote an alternate ending to Revenge of the Sith. Some people requested a sequel, and here it is! I hope y’all like it! Let me know if you want more 🙂 And if you haven’t read the first part, you can read it here.
There were a few things that could cause Anakin Skywalker to completely lose it. And one of those, was threatening his family. No kriffing way. Not to mention, that this came from the person who had agreed to help him save Padme from death – not kill her!
He had been battling Obi-Wan, when he knew, somehow just KNEW that Padme was in danger. Anakin may have ruined his entire life and any chance of living normally, but her? She did not fall into that category and he would be kriffed if he did not stop something even more horrible from happening.
Naturally, Obi-Wan had been shocked when Anakin froze in place, only uttering one word desperately, “Padme.” He had wasted no time abandoning the fight, to rush back to where he had last seen her: vulnerable, still. Anyone could harm her in that state! And his child? She, or he, was completely innocent.
“Anakin?” Not surprisingly, Obi-Wan’s mind could not compute this abrupt change in his previous padawan. Only minutes ago, he had seen for himself, Anakin’s yellow eyes…the eyes of a Sith. Yet…suddenly, he had stopped – halted, and if Obi-Wan’s vision was not failing him, his eyes were now bluer. Not quite back to what they were…but, definitely not yellow.
Running, Anakin shouted back a single phrase, not bothering to see if Obi-Wan followed. “Padme’s in danger!”
And this brought him to where he stood, glowering at Palpatine. If someone thought he was angry before, now he was furious. NO ONE HARMED HER. Anakin gripped his lightsaber tightly, the air taut with energy from the Force.
Palpatine gave a sigh, and nodded. “I truly had hoped it would not come to this Vader – ”
“My name is Anakin.” His mind flashed back to when he had first seen Padme, and said those exact words. Realization sunk in…he had traded one master for another. Watto for Sidious. One bondage to another.
Giving an expression of disgust, Palpatine muttered underneath his breath, “Of course, of course, Anakin. You had such potential! Such potential to master the ways of the Force,” he dropped his voice to a smirking whisper, “even death.”
Anakin glared at him, muscles tense with fury and pain. His voice was so controlled, that it caused chills to race over Obi-Wan’s and Padme’s skin. “You,” tone low, “were going to kill her.” He took a step forward menacingly.
Chuckling, Palpatine looked at him. “Why, yes. The plan was never for her to live. You were so naïve! She got in the way, and I cannot have people getting in the way. They get eliminated.” He snapped his fingers together, unable to contain his chortles. “So gullible! So desperate for affirmation! Though,” a sinister grin crept over his wrinkled, electrocuted face, “your children on the other hand…would make wonderful apprentices.”
Children? thought Anakin’s mind, briefly putting him into a stunned state as his eyes found Padme. She held close to her heart two small babes, their eyes snapped onto him. He locked gazes with her, guilt pouring over him like the boiling lava of the planet. Hot. Burning.
Then, he faced him.
“How dare you,” Anakin hissed, stepping in front of his family protectively. He would not let him harm them – in any way. With the black and brimstone background of Mustafar, his lightsaber ignited, Anakin Skywalker stood unwaveringly.
Author note: All characters and the universe belong to Disney/George Lucas, but the plot and storyline for my one-shots is mine 🙂 Please give credit if you use it.
“And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s,” ~ 2 Chronicles 20:15
Back at the end of January, I was reading a book series. The writing is really well-done and I thought the characters were wonderful, but last night I hit my limit.
It started to talk about stuff that I found too scary, and I tried to push through it because I’m curious and a reader and therefore, wanted to know what would happen. But I started to worry I would have nightmares about it (see blog post about my illness here, but basically horrific dreams come with it, so sometimes frightening things can “trigger” those memories).
So I ended up crying.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not a crier – it’s just not really my personality type to be overly emotional. However, I was just so scared that I was going to have nightmares and frustrated to be worried about ANOTHER thing.
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” ~ Exodus 14:14
This was really neat, because I was so tired of fighting, and…I had/have not memorized this verse.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” ~ John 14:26
I think sometimes we, as humans, get this ‘I have to do everything by myself’ attitude. We fall into the subconscious trap of not asking for help, not relying on someone, and often – at least for me – forgetting to even ask God for his help. I know I can go for so long, “battling” something, and not even remember oh, I should pray about this and go to God for help, until I’m completely exhausted and anxious.
Could this be why Psalm 23 and 46 both talk about being still?
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” ~ Psalm 23:1-3a
“Be still, and know that I am God,” ~ Psalm 46:10
I can picture God, as our Father, looking at us and being like, ‘if you will just be still in me and rest – I’ve got this.’
But of course, being our over-working, independent, forget-to-ask-for-help-selves, we run around trying to do it all on our own while our Father is waiting for us to release these burdens to Him, and let Him handle them.
As I finish writing this (I’ve written it scattered over several weeks), I find myself in that weary state again. For being a logical person, you would think that I would struggle with anxiety less. But my OCD brain loves to find silly things to attach itself to and worry on, and it can be exhausting. Maybe it’s because I had some intense anxiety and worries over the past few days and that’s all adding up to me struggling with anxiousness today. I’m not really sure.
Maybe it’s because I’m more tired today, and that exhaustion isn’t helping my mind to think clearly. I’m not going to say that I have found an all-perfect solution to this, as evidenced by this day, but I have to remind myself that even if it feels like it’s never going away, it will.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” ~ John 14:27
I love this verse. Fear and anxiety tend to zap any peace we have, and I think it’s so interesting that He says “let not your hearts be troubled.” Often, the heart is associated with emotions, and anxiety tends to send those all out of whack. I don’t know about you, but for me, I find the mental battles are much harder to fight than the physical ones.
For those of you, as well as myself, who struggle with anxiety or are at that place where you are just tired and weary of fighting, let’s remember that the battle is not ours. We are not meant to fight alone, we have a Savior who is more than willing to come beside us and strengthen us during these times. I know I forget this, and then it’s like oh right. God is here to help me, I’m not supposed to do this by myself. Sometimes, maybe, it might invoke an emotional response 😉 (shhh, don’t tell).
As we continue through our days, let’s remember that and determine to not let anxiousness steal our joy.
~ Southern Dreamer
For my creative writing class, we had to write the next chapter of one of our classmate’s books. I decided to do Gianna’s (check out her blog here!). I hope I did her wonderful story justice 🙂
Dear Dancers Diary,
NYC has been so much fun! I could have never imagined all of the new and exciting things I would get to do! They don’t call it the city that never sleeps for nothing, haha. All of my friends here have been really cool, they’ve taught me a ton! I guess I was pretty sheltered before.
I went home this weekend, which I was pretty nervous about. Even though I know my family means the best, they just don’t understand that this is the new and better me. I’m healthier and actually experiencing some exciting things in my life. Although, in all honesty, those green shakes that my friend keeps giving me, taste disgusting. But, it’s important that I’m in the best shape possible as a dancer, so I’ll push through it.
Anyway, when I did get home, like most mother’s, my mom was…way overly excited and freaked out. Apparently, I’m losing ‘too much weight’ and am ‘dangerously thin.’ She watched me all day, making sure I ate something at every meal. I’m really going to have to make up for it when I get back – if not before. I can’t take any chances with this.
As my mom got on her rant, my dad boarded that ship as well. You can imagine my frustration diary! They’re supposed to be happy for me – I’m finally reaching my full potential! And when I tried to explain that I was full, she just gave me the look. I may have had a yelling match with them, they just don’t understand.
Sunday came around and I winced, remembering that I was going to have to go to church today. Not that I dislike church, or anything like that, but really, so early in the morning? Nevertheless, I pulled on one of my fancy dresses that I haven’t worn in weeks. It had always been one of my favorites, so I was pretty excited to try it on. For some reason, it doesn’t fit me anymore. Even though I was sad about not being able to wear it anymore (well, after today), I’m pumped that I’m losing weight!
Going to the service and seeing all of my old friends, I felt kind of like an oddball out. Everyone kept sending me concerned looks. Am I still not pretty enough? Or good enough? I would have thought they would be at least semi-happy for me, but no.
God and I haven’t been on the best of terms lately, but I’ve been really busy and under a ton of stress, so I feel like He understands. The pastor began his sermon, and sheesh, can’t a girl catch a break? I swear he was looking at me the entire time. It was the longest hour of my entire life as this awful feeling kept rising up in me, going on about how I should not be hanging with my new friends and how I need to spend time with God more. Yeah, I ended up leaving early. Everyone’s always going on about how God is all love, so I really don’t think that He would put that kind of guilt on me – especially when He knows the pressure I’m already under.
I left a note for my family and quickly left to go back to NYC, where I belong.